Before filing your Articles of Organization with the South Dakota Secretary of State, you need to select a Registered Agent for your South Dakota LLC.
A Registered Agent is a person or a company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your South Dakota LLC in case your business gets sued. Legal mail is more specifically known as Service of Process and this can include items like complaints, summons, and subpoenas.
In short, this is how the US courts and the legal system works. They need to know that there is a reliable street address where important documents can be delivered, and the delivery of these documents can be tracked (similar to Certified Mail Return Receipt).
In South Dakota, a Registered Agent can also serve as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, annual report reminders, and other documents from the state as well as other organizations.
Your LLC’s Registered Agent must have a street address in South Dakota. PO Boxes are not allowed.
Your Registered Agent should be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm), Monday through Friday, in case Service of Process for an LLC arrives and someone needs to sign for it.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.
Who Can Be Your LLC’s Registered Agent in South Dakota?
When forming an LLC in South Dakota, you have 3 options:
Option 1: You can be your own Registered Agent.
Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option 3: You can hire a Commercial Registered Agent.
How Do I Know Which One to Choose?
- If you have a street address in South Dakota (such as a home or office address), you can serve as your LLC’s Registered Agent.
- If you don’t have a street address in South Dakota, you can use the name and address of a friend or family member. They’ll need to agree to be your LLC’s Registered Agent though.
Important: If your Registered Agent is going to be an individual (you, a friend, or a family member), that individual needs to be at least 18 years old, be a resident of South Dakota, have a street address in the state, and be available during business hours.
- If you don’t have a street address in South Dakota, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or you prefer not to), you can hire the services of a Commercial Registered Agent.
Commercial Registered Agents in South Dakota
A Commercial Registered Agent is a company that specializes in receiving Service of Process on behalf of your South Dakota LLC. Most Commercial Registered Agents charge between $100 and $300 per year.
Once hired, they will receive Service of Process on behalf of your South Dakota LLC and then forward it to you by mail at any address you’d like. Most Commercial Registered Agents will also email your documents for faster delivery.
If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent in South Dakota, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the service we use ourselves) because they’ve been in business for over 20 years, have great customer service, and they let you use their address in your entire LLC filing in order to keep your address off public record.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in South Dakota start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are on your LLC’s Articles of Organization get listed on public record and may appear in google searches.
If you were thinking of using your home address, but would rather keep it off public records, you can hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address throughout your Articles of Organization. Northwest Registered Agent provides this unique service at no additional cost. They offer Registered Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their address throughout your Articles of Organization.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your online account.
Special discounted pricing for LLC University® readers
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
Are there risks if you, a friend, or family are the Registered Agent in South Dakota?
In short, there are risks. They are not that likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your personal liability protection.
You’ll need to weigh pros and cons and see what makes you feel most comfortable. Being your own Registered Agent (or using a friend or family member) will save you some money, but it may expose you to unwanted risk as shown in the examples below. On the other hand, hiring a Commercial Registered Agent does cost a little bit, but it may help you sleep better at night.
For example, if the state is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent, you may lose your good standing status, and the state has the authority to dissolve your South Dakota LLC.
Additionally, if a process server is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent about a lawsuit (they will try a few times), a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not even know about it. Or worse, the court could enter a default judgment against your LLC if you aren’t there to defend yourself.
A few reasons a process server might not be able to reach your LLC’s Registered Agent:
• you, your friend, or your family member are not there during business hours
• you/they are on vacation
• you moved and forgot to file a change of Registered Agent with the state
Hiring a Commercial Registered Agent is a more reliable setup and gives you the freedom to take vacations and not worry about changing your Registered Agent address if you move.
Many Commercial Registered Agents in South Dakota will also help keep your LLC in compliance by sending you reminders of annual reporting requirements.
Once you determine who will serve as your South Dakota LLC’s Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: South Dakota Articles of Organization.
If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent in South Dakota, please do so before going to the next step. You’ll need their complete company name and street address in order to list them in your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
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